Fell About 75 Feet;
Team Of Rescuers
Carried Him Down
BY O.J. EARLY
AND KEN LITTLE
A 15-year-old swimming at the top of Margarette Falls was injured Monday evening after slipping and falling about 75 feet.
The teenager was identified as Matthew Simerly, a West Greene High School student.
He was carried down a rocky path to a trailhead on Shelton Mission Road by members of the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad, and flown by Wings Air Rescue to Niswonger Children's Hospital.
His condition was not available this morning.
Simerly was in stable condition about 8:45 p.m. Monday, paramedic Nathan Smith said.
The teenager was at the waterfall with another boy and girl when he fell about 75 feet to the bottom of the waterfall, Rescue Squad Capt. Bucky Ayers said this morning.
"It's a dangerous place to swim," Ayers said. "They get up there and swim some and they'll start climbing up on the waterfall to see what it looks like from the top down," he said.
Many of the rocks at the edge of the falls are moss-covered and slick from the water flowing over them.
The injured teenager was conscious as he was carried to the waiting helicopter and did not appear to have suffered life-threatening injuries, Ayers said.
"He had some abrasions and other injuries," Ayers said.
Rescue personnel were called to the scene and Simerly was transported down to the trailhead at about 8:45 p.m.
He "slipped off and fell," Smith said at the scene. "He was in good spirits and talked all of the way down the mountain."
Ayers said that Rescue Squad members and others assisting with the rescue were staged along the approximately 1.5-mile path down to the trialhead and took turns carrying the litter that Simerly was carried on.
"You're going up a grade. The trail is narrow and you get into a lot of rocks going up and down," Ayers said. "We staged them at different places on the trail so we could parcel it out to fresh people so everybody wasn't getting tired."
A total of 17 Rescue Squad members participated in the rescue effort, along with three Greene County-Greeneville EMS members and eight Camp Creek volunteer firefighters, Ayers said.
Ayers said at least five people have fallen off the falls in the last 10 years.
His advice for hikers: "Don't climb on the top of the falls. It's just too dangerous."